The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has been directed by the High Court to compensate the family of the late assistant minister and former Sotik MP Lorna Chepkemoi Laboso with Sh10.5 million for her death. This decision was made by Justice Arsenath Ongeri, who found the Authority negligent for issuing the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft, Mr. Christopher Maria Schnerr, a license without confirming his competency to fly.

Laboso, along with former Minister Kipkalya Kones, tragically passed away on June 10, 2008, when aircraft 5Y BVE crashed at Kojonga area in Narok due to negligence. She was 46 years old. The court was informed that despite deteriorating weather conditions, the pilot continued to fly over the Mau escarpment under visual flight rules, leading to the accident.

Justice Ongeri ruled that KCAA was negligent in issuing the conversion to the pilot without ensuring his competence and allowing the registration of the aircraft without a policy of insurance in respect of third parties. Laboso’s son, Marco Kiprono, who was a minor at the time of her death, has been awarded Sh50,000 for pain and suffering, Sh100,000 for loss of expectation, and Sh9.8 million for loss of dependency, along with special damages of Sh889,365.

The court emphasized that it was the responsibility of KCAA to ensure both the airworthiness of the aircraft and the competency of the pilot. Despite the pilot’s application for conversion of his USA CPL license and subsequent issuance of a Kenya license, no confirmation of his competence was obtained by the Authority.

The cause of the accident was determined to be Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CIFT), a common cause of aviation accidents associated with a lack of situational awareness. KCAA defended itself by attributing the accident to the pilot’s lack of vertical situational awareness due to poor visibility. However, the court held KCAA accountable for negligence in oversight and licensing procedures, disregarding the Authority’s claim that it had adhered to all relevant requirements for the aircraft’s airworthiness.

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